Sunday, April 4, 2010

easter memories

My religious views are sort of vague and undecided at best. I do acknowledge the importance of Good Friday and Easter to my more devout Christian friends, and for years I did go to church off and on. I appreciate the power of the Resurrection story. Beyond that, I can say I definitely believe in a Higher Power, and in Judeo-Christian ethics. That's not the full story, but it's perhaps the simplest way I can explain myself here.

Without meaning any disrespect, I want to say I have fond memories of Easter Sundays through the years, memories centering around the secular aspects of the holiday. It was never as big as Christmas morning was for my sister and me, but it was nice.

Years later, it's hard to remember what our minister said to us from the pulpit. But I clearly remember certain Easter outfits my mother prepared for us for those young years we went to church. One year in particular, Mama spray painted some rattan basket purses white, and adorned the hinged lids with artificial daisies. We wore headbands made of these same flowers, and our dresses were full and pouffy with slips of nylon netting. Our black patent-leather shoes had straps that you could slip back across the heels if you wanted to wear them as strapless flats. I remember staring down at my shoes and feeling good about them. And I remember Dr. Christiansen, the Presbyterian minister, joking to the overflow crowd of non-regular worshippers that the church would have plenty of room the following Sunday.

Most Easters arrived chilly, with gray skies and rain, at least the ones I remember the most. I'm not sure if this is supposed to mean anything... I mean, the Easter bunny isn't like the Groundhog, is he? The baskets arrive, rain or shine.

My sister and I would each get a basket filled with a generous assortment of brightly-colored sugar candy eggs-- hollow and white inside, with a scent and taste I can still remember-- as well as chocolate bunnies, and the occasional window-boxed Sees cream-filled large chocolate egg with lovely icing decorations.

We never believed in a bunny, not in the way we, for a time, believed in Santa Claus, not even when we were very young. My mother didn't bother with that, perhaps knowing full well her gifted daughters probably would have had a hard time believing in a giant rabbit with the wherewithal to deliver candy.

Like those of children everywhere in America, our Easter baskets were inexpensive woven wicker, with tall handles, colored with dyes that probably would have run if we got them wet. They were filled with brilliant cellophane grass, and contained identical loot, purchased and placed with care... no pre-packaged Easter baskets made in China.

Often, we all piled into the car and drove to Richmond for Easter dinner at either of our Grandparents' homes. As we grew older, I remember a series of Easter dinners at my Aunt and Uncle's home, with cousins running around everywhere. By then I was in high school and making many of my own clothes. The last Easter of that sort that I can remember, I'd made earrings to match my flower print Easter dress. Like the flower purse and headbands my mother made years before, I used artificial flowers for the earrings.

Quietly, without our noticing, these holidays change. Easters in my life are no longer a specific venue, probably because we are no longer children, nor do we have children of our own. When we first got married, I'd make an homage-to-childhood Easter basket for my husband. Now, after thirty years, My husband and I decide each Easter if we will make our own meal, or go out for a buffet. For a while, we had an Easter game where we left pink marshmallow bunnies in hiding places for each other throughout the house. Sometimes, I will buy us one of the Sees Easter eggs when they go on sale after the day has passed.

Now, I'm wondering when I experienced my final Easter-basket Easter. How old were we? And when was our last Easter dinner with the cousins? In either case, did we know at the time it would be our last?

Probably not.

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